The denial of democracy by Labour’s #chickencoup and their chicken soup of dirty tricks

PROTECTING democracy requires that the general public be educated on how people can be manipulated by the Establishment and media into forfeiting their civil liberties.

After the insidious assault on democracy over the past year by forces within the Labour Party Establishment we certainly need protecting.

Or in the words of the late US satirist and political agitator Lenny Bruce we must “shine a light in their beds”.

On the eve of the Labour leadership election declaration, the time has come to shine a light onto some of the most hideous examples of the gerrymandering of democracy ever seen in modern times.

  • It started on 12 September 2015, when Jeremy Corbyn was elected leader of the Labour Party with a majority of almost 60% of the vote on the first ballot alone, and huge mandate for change.

He received 121,751 votes from Labour Party members, 88,449 votes from Registered Supporters and a further 41,928 votes from Trade Union Affiliated Supporters.

But within minutes of his election Progress backed Labour MPs were briefing journalists in the print media and the BBC on their plans to unseat him.

By 11pm on 12 September 2015, the normally Labour friendly Daily Mirror reported on plans to bring Blair acolyte David Miliband back as leader, the moment Jeremy Corbyn could be seen to fail:

Labour MPs are already plotting to bring back David Miliband after Jeremy Corbyn’s victory, reported the Mirror:

The triumph of left-winger Jeremy Corbyn has spurred on the Labour MPs who are secretly working for a dramatic Miliband comeback ahead of the 2020 general election.

His allies at Westminster believe Mr Miliband could be persuaded to make a sensational return to the Commons by 2018 at a by-election for a safe Labour seat.

A senior Labour MP said: “If Corbyn is not up to the job as leader, there will definitely be another leadership contest.

“The best person for the job by a country mile would be David Miliband and overtures have already been made to him about a potential return.

“If things turn out as horrendously as we fear they will under Corbyn, David would be the only hope of saving the Labour Party.”

In a separate move, several MPs are also looking at ways of changing the Labour Party’s rules to make future leadership challenges easier.

At present, anyone trying to oust a Labour leader needs to put themselves forward and win the backing of a fifth of Westminster’s Labour MPs.

But a rival plan put forward earlier this year by right wing Labour MP Frank Field would mean just 30 anonymous Labour MPs could trigger a vote of confidence in the leader to get rid of a “deadbeat” leader.

  • It became an uneasy autumn and a winter of discontent for Mr Corbyn, with 66 of his own MPs rebelling against him on the vote to bomb Syria and Birmingham Yardley MP Jess Phillips stating she would knife her leader in the front, being some of the lowlights.

But nothing quite prepared Labour Party members or the general public for the sinister shenanigans which emerged on 7 January.

Mr Corbyn’s long expected Shadow Cabinet reshuffle led to the revelation, that BBC political editor Laura Kuenssberg, Daily Politics presenter Andrew Neil and Labour MP Stephen Doughty planned his live resignation on their programme, hours before it began.

The producer of the programme revealed in a BBC blog (quickly deleted) that Neil, Kuenssberg and himself manipulated the news to negatively impact Mr Corbyn during Prime Minister’s Questions.

In the blog, the producer – Andrew Alexander – admitted that the BBC team were not just reporting the day’s news but trying to influence it:

“This was a story where we could make an impact,” he wrote.

“We took a moment to watch the story ripple out across news outlets and social media. Within minutes we heard David Cameron refer to the resignation during his exchanges with Jeremy Corbyn.”

The broadcasting set-up was conceived by Mr Doughty – under advice from fellow Progress backed MPs – to create the maximum damage to Mr Corbyn.

  • On the morning of 23 March, just hours before Mr Corbyn was to tackle David Cameron in Prime Minister’s Questions on the Tories’ Budget U-Turn, a confidential list of loyal and disloyal Labour MPs was leaked to The Times.

The result was predictable: Mr Cameron used PMQs, not to defend the Budget U-Turn, but repeatedly mock the Labour leader for the leaked ‘list’.

It later emerged that the list was compiled three months earlier, yet it was leaked just as Mr Corbyn’s popularity was increasing in the opinion polls, just as the Tories were taking a big hit, just before a PMQs when Cameron was likely to be in very serious trouble, and weeks before the May council and mayoral elections.

So only an enemy within would deliberately leak the list at a key moment in order to help the Tories and do as much damage to Labour under Mr Corbyn as possible – to make them ‘a laughing stock’, as Labour plotter John Woodcock MP put it.

Ironic then that Woodcock privately tweeted to a journalist that it’s a ‘fucking disaster’, presumably to further damage Mr Corbyn. Only he inadvertently tweeted publicly so we can all see what he’s up to and give momentum to the plot against the leader.

  • On 13 June, The Daily Telegraph published an article which gave a deeper insight into the scheming of the Labour MPs, who hoped to topple Mr Corbyn.

The piece entitled: Labour rebels hope to topple Jeremy Corbyn in 24-hour blitz after EU referendum lays out the scheme:

Labour rebels believe they can topple Jeremy Corbyn after the EU referendum in a 24-hour blitz by jumping on a media storm of his own making.

By fanning the flames with front bench resignations and public criticism they think the signatures needed to trigger a leadership race can be gathered within a day.

They see the tactic as a way of securing public support for the move while targeting what is perceived as one of the Labour leader’s major flaws – indecision.

After the referendum Labour splits will return to the fore as the Tories call a string of parliamentary voters on Trident renewal and banning councils holding Israeli boycotts to help rebuild party unity.

While losing the EU referendum is seen as fatal by many to Mr Corbyn’s leadership, continued speculation remains about a challenge if the referendum brings a Remain vote.

Rather than naming a date to make their move some rebels now believe taking advantage of an opportune row holds the beast chance of success.

“It is not going to be a date in the calendar, it will be on the back of a media firestorm. It could happen within 24 hours,” said one Labour MP.

Asked how the coup could take place, another said: “Things go wrong, people have had enough, you start to see resignations and it spirals from there.”

A third Labour MP who served in the shadow cabinet said: “After the referendum there is going to be an immense number of lessons to learn and decisions to make.

“It is likely to be a pang of frustration that makes one colleague say ‘enough and enough’ and just resign. If one person did it and said to others ‘how about it’, things are desperate enough that it will happen.”

  • Now  fast forward to the so-called Morning After the Night Before: Saturday 25 June – less than 36 hours after the Brexit referendum result.

Eight right wing Labour MPs broke cover to use the Brexit vote to knife their leader Mr Corbyn in the back.

MPs Margaret Hodge and Ann Coffey submitted a motion of no confidence against him to the Parliamentary Labour Party chairman, John Cryer.

Almost immediately six other Labour MPs went on record backing the motion.

Mr Corbyn defended his conduct in the Euro referendum campaign amid criticisms that he offered no more than lukewarm support for remain, blaming government austerity cuts for alienating voters.

Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell accused many of the would-be assassins of being linked to Progress.

“They all come from a sort of a narrow right-wing clique within the Labour Party based around the organisation Progress,” he said.

“I don’t think they’ve really ever accepted Jeremy’s mandate. I’m afraid they have to recognise that Jeremy got elected with the largest mandate of any political leader from any political party in our history.

“I’m afraid they haven’t respected that leadership election result.”

  • Within two days – hot on the heels of Mr Corbyn sacking Hilary Benn as Shadow Foreign Secretary for his part in organising the coup – a battle for the heart and soul of the Parliamentary Labour Party began.

By the evening of Monday 27 June, 34 Labour MPs publicly announced their intention to try and oust Mr Corbyn as leader – with carefully timed resignations from the Shadow Cabinet.

Paul Flynn MP stated what many onlookers were thinking: “Orchestrated treachery. Resignations on the hour by the future Blair Tribute Party. Self-indulgent party games as steel jobs are in new peril.”

One of Mr Corbyn’s staunchest allies Ian Lavery MP said: “If we don’t respect democracy then we stand for nothing. The Labour Party membership gave Jeremy Corbyn a massive mandate. I’m supporting the membership and Jeremy.”

And as a shock to the plotters, shadow Home Secretary Andy Burnham stood with the membership.

“At an uncertain time like this for our country, I cannot see how it makes sense for the Opposition to plunge itself into a civil war,” he said.

“I have never taken part in a coup against any leader of the Labour Party and I am not going to start now.

“It is for our members to decide who leads our Party and 10 months ago they gave Jeremy Corbyn a resounding mandate. I respect that and them.”

Angela Eagle was among the resignations from Mr Corbyn’s Shadow Cabinet on that Monday, in the wake of the Euro Referendum result and the sacking of Hilary Benn as Shadow Foreign Secretary.

But while heaping the blame for Brexit on Mr Corbyn, Ms Eagle failed to admit that just two weeks earlier she publicly said of Mr Corbyn campaigning for Remain: “Jeremy is up and down the country, pursuing an itinerary that would make a 25-year-old tired, he has not stopped.”

And within hours of her resignation, it was revealed that Ms Eagle’s leadership campaign website Angela4Leader was registered at 6pm on Saturday 25 June, hours before Hilary Benn was sacked and two whole days before she resigned.

The website was registered by Joe McCrea, a PR executive who served as a special adviser in Downing Street during Tony Blair’s tenure.

But as we all now know, Ms Eagle’s candidacy was that of a stalking horse for the more media-friendly Owen Smith to step in.

  • The next attempt to subvert democracy occurred on Tuesday 12 July, when a hastily called meeting of Labour’s NEC had to determine whether Mr Corbyn needed the nominations of fellow Labour MPs and MEPs in order to stand for re-election as leader.

The crunch meeting at Labour’s Westminster headquarters began at 2pm and continued well into the evening

NEC members voted 18-14 in a secret ballot that he was not subject to parliamentary nominations and could automatically stand for re-election.

But in a separate decision taken after Mr Corbyn had left the room, the NEC ruled that only those who had been Labour Party members for more than six months would be allowed to vote – while new supporters would be given two days to sign up as registered supporters to vote in the race, but only if they were willing to pay £25.

  • The firestorm was now ablaze and the #chickencoup plotters decided to disenfranchise over 100,000 existing Labour voters, and in doing so deliberately destroy the incentive for people to join the Labour Party.

But the undermining of democracy didn’t end there.

Following the NEC ruling that Labour members who had joined the party since 12 January 2016 had been banned from voting in the upcoming leadership election. They were also denied attending their own constituency Leadership Nomination meetings – even as a non-voting observer.

Yet nowhere in the 12 July NEC ruling is any mention made of banning new members from attending Nomination meetings!

  • The next affront to democracy was done in the open, when millionaire Labour Party donor Michael Foster applied to the High Court to stop Mr Corbyn standing in the leadership election.

But despite the overtly vindictive application, by this close friend of Tony Blair, on 28 July, Mr Justice Foskett ruled that Mr Corbyn could automatically appear on the leadership ballot.

Speaking after the decision was announced Mr Corbyn said: “There should have been no question of the right of half a million Labour Party members to choose their own leader being overturned.

“If anything, the aim should be to expand the number of voters in this election.

“I hope all candidates and supporters will reject any attempt to prolong this process, and that we can now proceed with the election in a comradely and respectful manner.”

  • Having exhausted almost every trick, the leaders of the coup were now so convinced that Jeremy Corbyn would win the leadership contest that they began planning to elect their own leader and launch a legal challenge for the party’s name.

Leading Blairites leaked to the Daily Telegraph that they are looking at plans to set up their own “alternative Labour” if Mr Corbyn remains in post:

The move would see them create their own shadow cabinet and even elect a leader within Parliament to rival Mr Corbyn’s front bench.

They are also already planning to go through the courts to get the right to use Labour’s name and assets including property owned by the party across the country.

They would also approach John Bercow, the Commons Speaker, and argue that having more MPs than Mr Corbyn means they should be named the official opposition.

“The notion that we’ll all go back to happy families is nonsense,” said one prominent Corbyn critic, saying that the plan would help avoid the “nuclear” option of a full party split.

But support for the move is not universal, with some Labour centralists saying a legal challenge would be unlikely to succeed and warning creating a de facto alternative leader would be too provocative.

But the fact the plans are actively being considered by some of the party’s most senior moderate figures shows the level of despondency at Owen Smith’s chances of success and their contempt for democracy.

  • Then on Monday 8 August, came some welcome news. Five new members of the Labour Party won a High Court battle over their legal right to vote in the leadership election.

The five accused the party’s National Executive Committee (NEC) of unlawfully “freezing” them and many others out of the high-profile contest even though they had “paid their dues”.

To gain the right to vote, members were given a window of opportunity, between July 18 and 20, to become “registered supporters” on payment of an additional fee of £25. Non-members were given the same opportunity.

But Mr Justice Hickinbottom ruled that refusing the five the vote “would be unlawful as in breach of contract”.

The court action gave hope to almost 130,000 Labour supporters who were victims of the freeze.

The judge overturned the requirement that they must have been party members since before 12 January – the “freeze date”.

But it was a short-lived hope.

A few days later – using more than £40,000 of membership money to fight the case – Iain McNicol and the Labour Party elite won an appeal against the High Court ruling.

They also applied to recoup £30,000 towards the legal costs from the five ordinary members who brought the case.

Mr Corbyn’s campaign team responded angrily to the news.

“We think that this is the wrong decision – both legally and democratically,” they said.

“The Court’s ruling disenfranchises nearly 130,000 Labour members, who joined the party since January and were explicitly told that they would have a vote in any leadership election.

“Crucial to the outcome was the introduction of a new argument by the Labour Party HQ’s lawyers, who invoked an obscure clause in the Labour Party rules (Chapter 4, Clause II, 1A), which could be read as giving the NEC the right to ignore all of the rules laid out for leadership elections. In other words, this is a ‘make it up as you go along’ rule. We do not think that making it up as you go along is a reasonable way to conduct democracy in our party.”

  • And then came the now infamous purge of Labour Party members and supporters who were supportive of Mr Corbyn.

The seemingly ad-hoc purge went on throughout August and September, allegedly based on examples of abuse and bullying on social media.

Among the thousands suspended and expelled were Paralympic athlete and disability rights campaigner Kristina Veasey, Ronnie Draper, the leader of the Bakers Union, one member for stating on Facebook that she “fucking loves the Foo Fighters”, one lady who had no access to social media at all and…… me!

I won’t bore readers with my own case. But if interested you can read my appeal against my expulsion here.

Labour deputy leader John McDonnell publicly stated that there was a “rigged purge going on”.

And the purge was conducted in an overtly hypocritical manner.

It’s bad enough that Jeremy Corbyn supporters were purged from the party for stuff as trivial as liking the Foo Fighters too much on their personal Facebook feed, while anti-Corbyn members of the Labour Party establishment were allowed to get away with abuse like calling other members of the party “Nazi stormtroopers” in the mainstream press

But one of the most disgraceful things was the people were being purged for having posted social media comments supporting other political parties long BEFORE they joined Labour.

When the civil rights campaigner Shami Chakrabarti delivered her report into alleged cases of anti-Semitism the Labour Party and the NEC agreed to abide by its findings.

One of the clearest recommendations of the whole report was her call for “a moratorium on the retrospective trawling of members’ social media accounts and past comments”.

Instead of heeding this call for a moratorium on social media trawling, the Labour Party NEC instead decided to orchestrate what is almost certainly the most invasive McCarthyite mass trawling exercise in British political history.

Not only were they trawling back through people’s social media accounts to look for signs of disloyalty or thought crime from when people became party members, they were trawling back through comments that were made long before the intended victims of their witch-hunt ever joined the Labour Party.

One of the worst examples of someone being purged for supporting other parties long before Mr Corbyn even became Labour leader is the case of Gemma Angel who was purged from the Labour Party over a Tweet from May 2014 in which she explained her reasons for voting Green.

Another example is Ben Crawford who was also purged for the “crime” of posting Tweets in support of the Green Party between 2014 and 2015.

Then there are the trade union members who are known to support Mr Corbyn.

Steve Hedley, Senior Assistant General Secretary of the RMT, said recently that many RMT members had been excluded in the current purge.

This included a 38 year long member of the Labour Party who put a “like” against a TUSC candidate on Facebook, who was a friend of his.

A close friend and leading lawyer had this to say about the purge: “Nic, I can’t see any way for them to have done the mass purge other than by some form of software that trawls for your name and then terms like “Corbyn”, “Labour” and “traitor” within 10 words of each other or whatever.

“Some flunky will then give the results a cursory glance and fit the briefest of details into the pro forma purge letter.

“When I used to lecture in law we used software called Safe Assignments for plagiarism and needless to say, all the lazy and useless teachers loved it because it highlighted sentences and paragraphs in students’ writing that had apparently been taken from elsewhere on the web and gave them “evidence” for not having to read and assess the essays of their students. I always thought it raised more questions than answers and refused to use it myself.

“I’d really suspect that something like that is being used here, and to “lazy and useless” we can add a few other epithets for the fuckers who are using it on good Labour Party members like you.”

And this hypocritical purge has been far more insidious than we might think.

Iain McNicol put out some figures on 8 September of Labour members excluded/suspended around the leadership election.

A spokesperson for the party declared, “The speculation that huge numbers of applicants have been denied a vote has been wildly exaggerated.” He went on to claim that less than 0.5% of the electorate had been denied a vote.

It is worth drilling down into the figures released by Labour’s Compliance Unit.

The 0.5% claim refers to the entire Labour Party electorate of 650,000, not to new members where the purge was targeted.

After the failed parliamentary coup in June there was another wave of tens of thousands of people joining the party to defend Jeremy Corbyn.

This produced the decision by the July NEC to deprive these members of a vote in the leadership election by setting the freeze deadline at 12 January. Despite this around 180,000 members and supporters paid £25 to be able to vote.

So far, of this group, 21,000 were excluded because “they did not provide details that matched the electoral roll”. This has been interpreted extremely tightly; a slight variation in the person’s name as it appears on the electoral roll, a Flat 1 down as Flat A etc.

Many of these people will never know why they did not receive a ballot paper and did not chase it up and appeal.

Another 3,107 were ruled ineligible on grounds of party rules and a further 1,616 cases are awaiting a decision – that is 4,720 excluded up to 1 September.

Another 3,791 people apparently failed to make the necessary £25 payment – maybe because the website process wasn’t that easy.

So just taking the first two groups, nearly 26,000 people were excluded from voting out of 180,000 who applied, that is 14.4% not 0.5%.

The Compliance Unit then turned its attention to Labour conference delegates with one Labour blogger learning of five Corbyn mandated delegates excluded in 24 hours.

Ian McNicol claimed all these suspensions/barrings have “been approved by the NEC”, but of course the NEC has not met since July.

They are in fact approved by an NEC sub-committee run by the right – the NEC Oversight Panel – the new left leaning NEC does not come into being until next week – after this weekend’s Labour Party Conference.

  • And yesterday, the #chickencoup guns turned heavily towards the conference and the ruling NEC.

The Labour NEC, which includes several imminently-defunct members who will be replaced by Corbyn supporters at the weekend.

But last night at an eve of conference NEC meeting the right wing dominated committee voted by 16-14 to increase its number by two – one member each to be nominated directly by the Blairite leaders of Welsh and Scottish Labour:

Tellingly, no such move was made to put a representative of Northern Ireland Labour on the NEC – doubtless because Labour in Northern Ireland has seen 500% growth in membership under Mr Corbyn and is overwhelmingly pro-Corbyn.

It is another brazen snub to the memberships of the Labour Party and democracy itself.

The move must still be ratified by the Labour Conference, and the outcome of that vote is unclear.

But if the measure passes a Conference vote,  Jeremy Corbyn must take any actions necessary to negate it, whether that be shuffling people like Jon Ashworth, who has voted against Corbyn in every NEC vote, out so that they are removed from the equation and replaced by a better MP, or by withdrawing the whip to disqualify right-wing members so that the post-Conference NEC can overturn it or bring in rules that negate this deeply, shamelessly anti-democratic tactic.

It will go against the grain to take such steps, even to correct such an egregious and underhand wrong – but turnabout is fair play and the anti-democratic faction in the Labour party must not be allowed to succeed. They have underhandedly exploited the rulebook to open this door, so they can’t complain if the rules are used to firmly close it again.

These are the dying efforts of a right wing in retreat at all levels in the Labour Party; an attempt to fight to the last by gerrymandering democracy at every turn.

On the path forward to true democracy, the current General Secretary Iain McNicol must resign.

The Compliance Unit must be abolished and replaced by something that welcomes new members and holds all members to collective discipline – left or right.

We need a sustained effort to involve the new members into an outwardly focused party, campaigning against austerity and against the Tories.

Protecting democracy requires that the general public be educated on how people can be manipulated by the Establishment and media into forfeiting their civil liberties.

Together things can and will change.

  • Thanks to Stuart King for purge statistics section
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The one thing bringing the Labour Party into disrepute is this one-sided political purge

And it’s time for Iain McNicol to resign

 

By Stuart King

Iain McNicol, the Labour Party General Secretary put out some figures last week (8 September) of Labour members excluded/suspended around the leadership election.

A spokesperson for the party declared, “The speculation that huge numbers of applicants have been denied a vote has been wildly exaggerated.” They went on to claim that less than 0.5% of the electorate had been denied a vote.

This statement came after growing uproar from those arbitrarily excluded and the Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell’s remark that there was a “rigged purge going on”.

It is worth drilling down into the figures released by Labour’s Compliance Unit. The 0.5% claim refers to the entire Labour Party electorate of 650,000, not to new members where the purge has been targeted.

After the failed parliamentary coup in June there was another wave of tens of thousands of people joining the party to defend Jeremy Corbyn. This produced the decision by the July NEC to deprive these members of a vote in the leadership election by setting the deadline at January 12th. Despite this around 180,000 members and supporters paid £25 to be able to vote. It this group that the purge has been primarily aimed at.

Who is being excluded?

So far, of this group, 21,000 were excluded because “they did not provide details that matched the electoral roll”. This has been interpreted extremely tightly; a slight variation in the person’s name as it appears on the electoral roll, a Flat 1 down as Flat A etc.

Many of these people will never know why they did not receive a ballot paper and will not chase it up and appeal. Another 3,107 have been ruled ineligible on grounds of party rules and a further 1,616 cases are awaiting a decision – that is 4,720 excluded up to 1 September. Another 3,791 people apparently failed to make the necessary £25 payment – maybe because the website process wasn’t that easy. Were they chased up – no chance!

So just taking the first two groups, nearly 26,000 people have been excluded from voting out of 180,000 who applied, that is 14.4% not 0.5%. And this figure is only up to September 1st, the purge is continuing apace up to conference.

The Compliance Unit now seem to have turned their attention to Labour conference delegates with one Labour blogger learning of five Corbyn mandated delegates excluded in 24 hours!

Ian McNicol has claimed all these suspensions/barrings have “been approved by the NEC” but of course the NEC has not met since July. They are in fact approved by an NEC sub-committee run by the right – the NEC Oversight Panel – the new left leaning NEC does not come into being till after conference.

How members are treated

It is worth giving some examples of the decisions being made to get a flavour of the members being excluded.

One group involves people who, in one way or another, were sympathetic to the Green Party when the LP was lurching rightwards and who now are attracted back to Labour under Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership. Surely a group the LP should really be chasing if we want to win a majority over the Tories?

Take the case of Kristina Veasey, a Paralympian and a disability rights campaigner, which was reported prominently in the Huffington Post. She recounted what happened. “I am a community activist, an artist, a mother, an equalities consultant and until a few days ago I was a Labour Party member.” Two years ago she retweeted something that the Labour Party’s Compliance Unit found unacceptable.

Not an abusive message, but an anti-fracking one by Green MP Caroline Lucas. “For those investigating me this was enough to expel me on the grounds that ‘you supported comments made on Twitter that evidenced your support for the Green Party’.

The expulsion was carried out under Appendix 2.1.B.x of the Labour Party rules – an automatic exclusion clause which prevents her from reapplying for membership for two years unless there are exceptional circumstances.

In another case, Sophie McKeand was sent a letter from the General Secretary saying “You were asked to confirm ‘I support the aims and values of the LP and I am not a supporter of any organisation opposed to it”. A panel of the NEC has considered your application and has decided to reject it on the grounds that you tweeted in support of the Green Party on 8 May 2015”.

Clearly this rule, involving supporting another party within two years of applying to join, was designed for people who stood against Labour in elections or their agents, not against people who tweeted something.

It is a scandalous abuse of the rules aimed at weeding out Corbyn supporters. Of course this rule has never been used against Tory or Lib Dem members who have applied to join Labour because they have generally strengthened the right

Then there are the trade union members who are known to support Corbyn.

Steve Hedley, Senior Assistant General Secretary of the RMT, said recently that many RMT members had been excluded in the current purge.

This included a 38 year long member of the Labour Party who put a “like” against a TUSC candidate on Facebook who was a friend of his. Even the Bakers’ Union General Secretary, Ronnie Draper was excluded on the grounds of past comments made on social media, but with no details provided about the precise nature of the offence. He appealed and was later re-instated, probably because he was so prominent a figure in the labour movement, others have not been so lucky.

An 82-year-old pensioner and lifelong Labour voter and member has been expelled by the party for supporting media democracy. A year ago on social media, she retweeted a post calling for the Green Party leaders to be included in TV debates.

For the Compliance Unit that single retweet justified expelling her and barring her for five years, because it supposedly signified support for the Greens. She tweeted in reply: “Well this housebound carer/pensioner expelled today. Mr McNicol’s way of thanking me for 50 years of votes?? Stunned!”

Then there is the just plain ludricrous examples from this purge. The Labour member who was suspended for saying on Facebook that she ‘f*cking loves the Foo Fighters.’ One assumes this was probably a software error but who knows! The Foo Fighters later commented on social media that they’re surprised to be on the Labour Party Compliance Unit blacklist.

Bringing the Labour Party into disrepute

If anything is bringing the Labour Party into disrepute it is this one sided political purge, using the most ridiculous of pretexts to exclude members/supporters and damage the Labour’s image across a range of social media.

Of course the established press, the BBC, Channel 4 etc ignores these cases because they counter the media narrative that it is the Labour Left and Momentum that are the bullying, bad guys.

Why is the right-wing, ensconced in Labour’s apparatus, going to all this trouble when it looks like Jeremy Corbyn is the favourite to win?

One reason is to reduce his majority, to be able to say “there you are, he is losing support even among the members after a year in office”. Another is to save face, both for Owen Smith and the Labour right in the PLP who forced another election so soon.

A more sinister reason is to try and rig the Labour Party conference by excluding left wing delegates and pushing through Tom Watson’s electoral college idea, a structure that would restore the parliamentary and trade union dominance over the individual members of the party by depriving them of their votes.

These are the dying efforts of a right wing in retreat at all levels in the party; an attempt to fight to the last by gerrymandering elections.

The lesson that Jeremy Corbyn and his supporters must learn from this is to make no compromises when it comes to taking control of the key NEC sub-committees, the full-time apparatus of the party and to deal with the coup mongers in the PLP itself.

The current General Secretary must resign.

The Compliance Unit must be abolished and replaced by something that welcomes new members and holds all members to collective discipline – left or right.

To do this we cannot rely on the PLP left alone, nor even the currently active Labour members. We need a sustained effort to involve the new members into an outwardly focused party, campaigning against austerity and against the Tories.

If we do this, the right-wing will realize they have no future if they continue to obstruct the efforts to radically change the party. Things can and will change.

(Stuart King is a member of Lambeth Momentum)

Appeal against my expulsion from the Labour Party – an open letter

WITHOUT PREJUDICE

 

Iain McNicol

General Secretary of the Labour Party

Compliance Unit

Labour Central

Kings Manor

Newcastle upon Tyne

NE1 6PA

 

 

Dear Mr McNicol

 

Appeal against Expulsion from the Labour Party

Membership Number: Lxxxxxxx

 

I acknowledge receipt of your email of 7 September 2016, and the copy letter, received this morning. I wish to appeal against my expulsion.

 

PREAMBLE

I was born into a middle class Tory voting household and to my eternal shame joined the Conservative Party at age 16. Three years later I was elected Vice Chairman of the Northern Region of the Federation of Conservative Students. I even helped Margaret Thatcher get elected in 1979.

But, life is a great leveller and educator, as I am sure you will agree.

My education began in the early 1980s as a teacher in the South Yorkshire pit village of Darton. I lived in the village for four years among miners and their families, and many of my charges were destined to also become miners. I witnessed at first hand the devastation of the miners’ strike and the evil reality of Thatcherism.

My education continued in 1988 when I was hospitalised in Cardiff for four months for surgery and treatment of lung cancer. Many of my fellow patients in the ward and at the radiotherapy clinic were former miners from the south Wales valleys and sufferers from pneumoconiosis and consequential lung cancer. I listened at first hand to their stories of life in the pits and the betrayal of their futures and communities by Thatcher and her minions.

Over 10 years I had changed forever from a right wing Tory into a true blood socialist, and in 1989 I joined the Labour Party.

Such conversions are not uncommon. I am sure you remember Conservative minister Shaun Woodward crossing the floor of the Commons to join the Labour Party, where he was welcomed with open arms by our then leader, Tony Blair.

Fellow Tory MPs Peter Temple-Morris, Robert Jackson and Quentin Davies did likewise.

And today, under Jeremy Corbyn we are seeing many more conversions from the Greens, the Lib Dems and others, which I hope are being welcomed with similar enthusiasm.

As I said earlier: life is a great educator.

Over the ensuing years, unemployment, bereavement, homelessness and a career in newspaper journalism hardened my beliefs as a socialist and supporter of the Labour Party.

One of the proudest moments of my life came in 1994 when 41 Labour MPs signed an Early Day Motion in the House of Commons praising my investigative journalism into the lies then being peddled by the Conservative government. Some of my all-time political heroes signed that EDM: the late and great Tony Benn, the much missed Alan Simpson, Ken Livingstone, Dennis Skinner and ironically Jeremy Corbyn.

These names next to mine remain a personal shield of honour, which will always remain, whatever the outcome of this appeal.

However, in 2003 I left the Labour Party after being disillusioned and betrayed by Tony Blair’s social welfare policies and for leading us into an illegal war in Iraq against the wishes of the British people and the vast majority of Labour Party members.

For the next 12 years I watched and wrote from afar, dismayed by so-called New Labour and the osmosis of party policy between the Tories and Labour. I became unattached to any political party and described myself as a nihilist.

But, Jeremy Corbyn’s election as Labour Party leader in 2015 reignited a personal belief that things might change and that Labour had rediscovered its soul, cherished under Clem Atlee, Harold Wilson, Jim Callaghan and Michael Foot.

Early in July this year I rejoined the Labour Party and on 18 July received my membership card with an accompanying letter which said: “You are the newest member to add your voice, skills and passion to our movement. Labour’s strength comes from its members.”

 

APPEAL

  • Your email/letter of 7 September 2016 refers to my application to become a member of the Labour Party… and that my application has been rejected.

I have been a member of the Labour Party from 1989-2003 and rejoined with letter of acceptance and membership card on 18 July 2016. Indeed, not only am I already a member of the Labour Party, but you also accepted my £25 Poll Tax payment as a supporter on 28 July to allow me to vote in the Leadership election.

Your action is therefore retrospective and it could be viewed that you took my £25 voting fee under false pretences.

  • Your email/letter of 7 September 2016 says: “The Labour Party should be the home of lively debate, of new ideas and of campaigns to change society. However, for fair debate to take place, people must be able to air their views in an atmosphere of respect. They shouldn’t be shouted down, they shouldn’t be intimidated, and they shouldn’t be abused, either in meetings or online.”

I have NEVER in my lifetime shouted down or intimidated anyone. I have also NEVER abused anyone.

As a victim and survivor of childhood sexual abuse and later domestic abuse, which left me minutes from death, I believe the NEC needs to revisit its use of the term “abuse”.

But, if abuse means bullying, I am a long time campaigner against bullying in all its forms.

Indeed, I was the first to alert NEC member Johanna Baxter on 14 July 2016, that the cyber bully who had reduced her to tears was not a member of the Labour Party or follower of Jeremy Corbyn, but was a far right Nazi troll named Claire Khaw, a former member of the BNP.

  • Your email/letter of 7 September 2016 says I am being expelled because “You have made inappropriate comments on social media including a post on 28 June 2016”.

A quick trawl of my own accounts shows that the only comments you might refer to was my blog posting: Hanging from Traitors’ Gate – Progress: Labour’s right wing Militant

I revisited this subject in more detail in another blog posting on 27 July 2016: The right wing incontinence of the Progress plotters

My blogs are always widely shared on Facebook, Twitter, Linked-in and other social media platforms. These particular blogs are typical of the scores of investigative newspaper reports which won me dozens of awards over a 28 year career in journalism.

They shine a light onto facts about Progress and its members.

If your problem is in the title of the blog piece, maybe lessons in English metaphor and history are required.

A view shared by many is that Progress is as much a right wing entryist party within a party as Militant was in the 1980s.

As for the bulk of the piece, it is written with the same dynamism that former Labour leader Neil Kinnock attacked Militant.

If your problem is with my use of the word Traitor/Traitors, I believe that anyone who has committed the treachery to our leader Jeremy Corbyn and to the 121,751 Labour Party members, 88,449 Registered Supporters and 41,928 Trade Union Affiliated Supporters who voted for him, as observed by the so-called #chickencoup, deserves to be called a Traitor.

I am sure that as a former trade union leader you have used the word traitor or scab to other comrades in times of dispute.

I know that MPs Tom Watson, John McTernan, Luke Akehurst and others have used the word Traitor, and much worse about fellow Labour Party members.

If your problem is about me naming MPs who should face deselection if they fail to ameliorate their treachery, I am doing no more or less than Neil Kinnock did when he named, shamed and threatened with expulsion Derek Hatton, Tony Mulhearn and Lesley Mahmood.

The Labour Party has thrived amid robust and lively debate. To kill or stifle that debate behind claims of bullying or intimidation is to kill the Labour Party and make it into a pink imitation of the Conservatives.

 

CONCLUSION

I vigorously defend my blog post and request that my expulsion is overturned.

I have been increasingly shocked by the actions of the NEC executive board and certain NEC members over the past three months.

This may not help my appeal, but in my opinion the NEC has acted against the membership of the Labour Party and in doing so has damaged the reputation of the party for the foreseeable future.

The top-down NEC dictats bullying the membership can be viewed as Stalinism.

The purge and witch-hunt of members and electors who do not hold a certain beliefs might be seen as McCarthyism.

And the encouragement for members to report other members for un-comradely actions are those of the former East German Stasi.

I never thought I would witness such behaviour from the management of the Labour Party.

 

Please clarify your reasons for my expulsion and confirm when my appeal will be heard.

 

I reserve all rights.

 

Yours sincerely

 

Nic Outterside